tv Panel Discussion on the Book Industry CSPAN August 29, 2014 2:47am-3:35am EDT
your electronic devices for the audience and for our friends at home. today's panel is called connecting authors and readers. we'll be discussing how publishers, writers, the media and booksellers help readers discover new books and authors. without further ado, i'll introduce our panel and then let them tell you a little bit about
what they do. to my right is tarin rhodeer, the associate director of -- [inaudible] she manages a boston-based team. her best selling authors include paul tuft, temple grandin and justin torres. she was previously based in washington, d.c. at island press, and she has an mfa in greater writing from the university of northern maryland. next to her is susan call. susan is the events and programs director at politics & prose. she's the author of four novels including acceptance. her fifth novel will be published in july by sarah cryington weeks finish cryington books. next to her is the social media director for the washington independent review of books, a web site run by a dedicated team of volunteers that publishes new reviews every weekday and covers
all things book-related. please check it out at www.wirobooks.com. she also works as a copy editor for the hill newspaper and can be found reading and cheering on various sports teams at night. last but not heath is beth ann patrick. her book reviews appeared in publications such as the washington post, people and o magazine. she's blogged about books for places like publishers weekly, aol and barnes & noble.com. beth ann is an active social media presence, you can find her @the book maven on twitter. she's the author of two nonfiction books from national geographic and is currently working on a novel. now i'm going to ask the panelists to take a minute to sort of very briefly explain what it is they do, tell you what their job title is and sort of explain how they connect authors to readers quickly. and succinctly.
>> succinctly. i'm always succinct. a publicist's job. when i was trying to find my way in publishing, when i was trying to find my way in publishing, i sort of didn't know what i wanted to do, and then i realized there was this role where i could be working with authors and journalists and talking about books all the time, and i was, like, oh, i want to do that. i want to talk about their books all the time, i want to get their books out there on the, you know, to readers. i want to connect their book withs to the real people who are buying the books. so publicity was the really perfect place for me. i get to do a all that, i get to work with the authors before their books come out, try and figure out how is the best way to roll out their book. talk to media and, of course, i love journalists of all colors and stripes. >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> read a lot and send these authors around the country and figure out how to get their book out there. >> and like taryn, i think i always dreamed of having a job that would be, have something to do with books. be careful what you wish for, now i have a job where my desk
is just buried in advance copies of books, and there is just more out there than we're able to fit into the bookstore or our programs department at politics & prose which is a great problem to have. my job is overseeing everything programs related at the store which means classes, trips, trying to fined ways to -- find ways to use authors who we can't fit into our events program, trying to even grow our events program beyond what you see in the store where we have just a complete calendar with events seven days a week. so we're looking for ways to expand that, and that's what i do. >> i'm katie, i'm the social media director for the washington independent review of books. we were founded in 2011 as a site dedicated to writing book reviews and features. we're all volunteers, so i'm just a volunteer. i do this for fun.
really everyone says there that it's a labor of love. i post on twitter and facebook to try to grow our audience, but people know that we exist and to try to connect with readers through social media. >> i'm beth ann patrick, and currently i'm the books editor at washingtonian magazine which is a wonderful dream job. i wish it could be a full-time job, but i wish it could take up 20 pages of the magazine someday when there's so much book advertising that will happen. but in the meantime, i do other things, and one of those is to maintain an active social media presence and through friday reads to connect a lot of different people with books that everyone else is reading. it's something that i'm passionate about. i'm working on a book proposal right now for a nonfiction book about women and reading, because i'm so passionate about it. and i will continue to look for new ways to work in this world. i've done a little bit of everything, and i find that we've got so much to discuss and
discover today that i'm not sure how we'll get through it, but really happy to see you all here. thank you for coming out. >> thank you all very much. so as you've seen just from the brief descriptions, we've got a good variety of people in the industry. one of the things we don't have someone representing here the advertising world, but there is some advertising in book publishing. i just want to tell a quick anecdote. my first job in book publishing i thought, you know, i don't know what i'm doing, but i fancied myself possibly an ad man, a madman. and i thought, well, all you need to do is come up with a good tagline, and you could sell a book like that. so i said to myself what's simple, straightforward, to the point, and i came up with buy this book, it won't kill you. [laughter] and i announced it at a meeting -- >> don draper. >> it was rejected without discussion. there ended my advertising career. [laughter] but i use that as an illustration of sort of probably
not a good way to sell books. [laughter] i sort of open to the panel, maybe we can start with bethanne because she's an author, she's done a book on the social media side, the old school media side, you know, what are some of the more effect ebays you've -- effective ways you've found to get readers to pick up a book? >> it really is true that word of mouth is still the most effective way to get books out, you know, at all. and so what i would say in my experience is that anything that helps replicate or expand on that word of mouth, and that's why i think social media has been so fantastic. katie can say some more on this, i'm sure. but that's the thing about the best social media experience is it feels like you're talking to someone in a meaningful way. and we can, you know, dissect whether or not, you know, certain things are meaningful or not. but that's what happens. and so i really feel that social media has made it much easier to
get information about books. i don't know -- out on the web. i don't know, though, if that translates into sales. it translates into buzz about the book, it translates into people knowing about the book. a lot of them may still borrow it from a library, get it from a friend. so trying to decide about book sales is a much tougher thing. >> yeah. i would agree with that, that it's hard to say if it does turn into sales, but social media's been great because it's free. so you can, you know, reach a huge audience and pay nothing for it. you can reach people on facebook, on twitter, you can go to lesser-known sites, google plus, instagram. you don't have to pay a dime, and if you want to, you can promote it on facebook. we've been doing that recently. and that you do have to pay for, but the expenses for doing that is really cheap. so that's the great thing for the independents since we're a nonprofit, we're also only digital. we don't have a publication that we can hand out to people.
we have to use every resource we can on the internet to get the word out, and social media's the perfect way to do that. >> susan, you come from sort of the bookseller perspective but also an author. i mean, what sort of even anecdotally have you heard from friends, readers, you know, besides -- maybe not friends, but people who have picked up your book who you've met at a book signing or people in the store. are there things that have been effective? what have you seen will drive -- what drives people into the store aside from the fact that it's a fabulous store and they love books? >> driving people to the store, i think social media definitely drives people to our events program, and it's a little bit cyclical because when people are scheduled for an event, then if you're coming -- through town, they wind up on diane rehm or some other capacity. often that will drive "the washington post" to profile the author. so, you know, the buzz because
sometimes generate actual publicity that turns people into the store. so it does, the social media does work in that respect i'd say, yeah. >> i can add word of mouth is so important, and that's why i'm always telling my authors, you know, don't be shy. you have to be your own best publicist. make a list of everybody that you would invite to your wedding, and then tell them all about your book and tell them however you want to tell them. if you want to send them e-mail, twitter, facebook, but please don't think they're going to think you're bragging because this is the best way to get the word out. i personally, and that's why the line for social media with the publicists, all my fiends talk about my kids, my life, but i think people who follow me know i'm selective. i'm talking about my best things, and i hope that word of mouth is spreading the news. but in terms of -- because, of course, people really care about something that their friend
tells them to read more than something that a review arer that they don't know tells them to read. however, that said, traditional media is still a very, very important way to get people into the store. i think, you know, reviews in "the new york times," reviews in "the new york times" book review, interviews on national public radio are key. that's sort of a book-buying audience, a audience that really cares about it, and i've seen that really move the needle on sales in terms of books. >> and those reviews in washingtonian make a huge difference. >> a huge difference. they should be 20 pages. [laughter] >> but it's true what you say, that does put a lot of pressure on the author, especially an author who does not like to go around bragging. and i remember my first publicist said tell every single person you know you wrote a book whereas my first time out i was thinking i've just written a book, and i hope no one notices. [laughter] i've now learned that's not really the right strategy. >> that's good. very good.
[laughter] i'm going to sort of put you on the spot, taryn brings up a good point, and i had it on my list of things to talk about. if i had to make you pick a thing, i get authors coming to me all the time saying, you know, what is the thing i should do, and i don't actually believe there is necessarily a thing to do. but if you had to pick one thing, what is still the best way to sell a book? if you could only get one thing, an npr interview, a review in the new york time, you know, what would you all -- i want to go down the line. if you had to pick one with thing, what would be the thing that you think would sell the most books? >> the number one thing the author should do is be nice to your publicist. [laughter] >> that aside -- [laughter] >> oh. >> a medium, what would -- i mean, our reviews still the driving force behind books? >> no. >> more than anything else? >> i've been told it's npr, that radio is the gold standard. >> now -- >> that's what my publicists have always -- >> and do we think that's
because reviews are harder to come by? >> well, there's less review space, and so people will listen to npr more than they will sit down and read a book review. however, i would say the one thing -- and i don't know if this is what you're thinking of, gene, but the one thing an author can do to sell books is to have a really good, and i'll use the word robust, e-mail list that that author can use to send out news. i'm appearing here, i'm going to be on npr, i'm selling books at this place. there's a sale on my e-book. a really good e-mail list like that that they can send things out, and they know that it's people who will pay attention and then tell two friends and so on and so forth. >> i absolutely, i couldn't agree more. i'm actually sort of really curious more about the media stuff. i realize you can't control it, but if you could pick a thing to get, now you've stepped across the aisle, and you are now on the traditional, old school -- >> right. >> -- mainstream, whatever you want to call it, you are now
that person reviewing books. how important is the book review? is it diminished? is it more important because there's less of them? >> you know, i wish i could say it's more important because there's less of them, and that's simply not true. it really depends on where it is. it does matter, i think, in magazines that like washingtonian that care about books, because you know that what we've chosen is something that we've chosen very much for our audience. we're not just throwing anything against the wall to see what sticks. and not that i'm saying that theree%e publications like that, but -- >> no. [laughter] >> you just know that we're really carefully vetting the books and bringing you the best of what's out there. that's what i think people need today. we don't have time, any of us, to read about every single book. we have to have things. another buzz word, we need to have thinged curated for us. and so i do think reviews are still important. i do think radio interviews are important, but it's all about, you know, making sure that
whatever you're consuming is the best of what -- so i don't know if that's, i'm answering. >> yeah. there's no right or wrong answer to the question, i just was always sort of curious. again, people ask me, then you try to figure it out. one thing i tell my clients often is, you know, i mean, to me you want to get print coverage of your book because the people who are reading print coverage, technically, they are readers. [laughter] but i also feel like, and our friends from c-span aside, i also sometimes feel radio is a much better vehicle. tv we know how many eyeballs are watching you. everyone wants to be on tv because it's fancy. but i would sort of put it at the bottom of the list in some ways. the best thing about tv to me is other people see it, other media see it. media follow the tv. so i was just sort of curious about that. to move on to sort of a different piece, there's no question to me that the reading world is sort of becoming --
reading is becoming more segmented. we are living in a sort of right-now moment, you know? twitter is, it's beyond exploded. i mean, it's here, it's not going anywhere. it's 140 characters. it's the antithesis of a book. [laughter] you know, do you guys think, is it harder to sell a long form product, the book, in sort of a short attention span world? i mean, i just sort of look at it, again, talking about tv sound bites versus a long interview. less tv shows are doing long interviews. it's two minutes, five minutes on cnn as opposed to, there's less of the 30 minutes of charlie roses. i'm curious how you find that sort of working -- and i don't mean it in a derogatory way, sort of like an old school, long format world? we were working in an old school, long format thing in a short attention span world. >> i can, i mean, sometimes, you know, i'll be working with an author, and they'll have had a book 15, 20 years ago, and they'll be telling me about the
20-minute interview they had on "today show," and i'm like, oh, that's not going to happen anymore. basically, there's just so much more media. there's more books, and there's more media. and i think one of the ways to sort of combat this short attention span is that we have to be thinking about both the quality of the media that the author's going to have -- bless you -- the quality of the media they're going to have and the quantity. you need to have your author everywhere. say yes to doing the q and as on the blogs, say yes to the interviews even if it's at, it's not national. say yes because we really need to have you everywhere. we'd like to have this campaign look like some big national hits supported by a bunch of other stuff so that everywhere people look, they're seeing you. >> well, katie, to you, i mean, sort of -- i mean, how do you work, you know, being in a publication that is strictly online, you know, but also, again, you're in the new world, but you're dealing with the old world. i mean, how have you found it, i
mean, one of the main things you've got to do are book reviews which are, by nature, fairly long. you're not quite the new york review of books where they're incredibly long, but, you know, what other stuff do you guys do? how do you cater to in the social media world, you know, bringing someone through small means to the bigger things? >> i think that, i think that while book reviews are still important, we also branch out into features as well. and a lot of times what we'll do is we'll have a review of an author's book, and we'll also have an interview with them. so you can read the interview and read the book. you're limited to the amount of characters, but you're reaching to a community that want to read. they're not the kind of perp that's going to pass over it. if they're interested in it, they're going to follow you. if they're not, they're not. so i just feel like with social media you can reach those people who love to read and want to
devour author interviews and features. and i think that's the great thing about social media and the digital age is that you can reach a specific audience. >> i think that's a really good point. you want to reach avid readers. one thing i would say to authors is you have to be an avid reader to reach an a vid reader, you know? be someone who is out there buying books and going to events and paying attention and reading reviews as well. because if you're someone who's only reading one or two books a year and then you write a book, you don't know that much about what everyone else is reading and about how they're consuming. you'll learn a lot if you become a really good reader, really good as we -- and this has gotten some criticism, but i do think literary citizenship is something that's worth thinking about and talking about regardless of what you think of the, you know, what it should be. but i do think that authors if you want when you want authors out there like taryn does doing
this, they need to know what the terrain is like. >> that's a really good point. i mean, i have a young daughter in kindergarten, and, i mean, every day they're like read, read, read, read. somewhere between kindergarten and adulthood we sort of lose that, people telling you reading's good, reading's good. i think that's an excellent point about literary citizenship. i think it's really important. i'm curious, bethanne, katie but anyone else too, i've sort of noticed the trend seems to be online, that, you know, it's catering now. it's able to cater more to the fast-paced, you know, sound bites of the world. if you look at book coverage on, you know, like the daily beast or huffington post, i think even on the washington review of books, it's not that the book review's gone away, but you see a lot more slide shows. they're huge now. you can tell about your entire novel in five slides. am i right? >> can you put your book on
pinlt rest, please? >> do you guys see that? is there a way that we can sort of use the small world of twitter to sort of get people into the book? can you get them to expand their horizons by luring them in by a slide show? >> i mean, yeah. i think, definitely. i think that's also a way to reach the younger generation. i mean, i'm a millennial, a 20-something, and i know a lot of my friends and the people i talk to online like to get that kind of information through twitter. and i just my train of thought. but -- >> actually, if you can stand it, i have something to say, maybe it'll help you pick up the train, because i know what that's like to lose the train. [laughter] it's not being a millennial, one of the things i read recently, i happened to go to my local coffeeshop, and someone had left united rap soty magazine. and there was a piece in it about the end of brand
storytelling. basically what he was saying is you can't tell the story of coke anymore. you have to let other people tell their stories about coke, okay? so is he was talking in, you know, in these terms, in advertising terms about how it's no longer don't tell us how green giant grew from a little sprout to a giant, you have to let people tell you about their experiences with green bean cat role. but in -- cat role. he said it's not beginning, middle and end anymore. people go into worlds online, and they want to live in those worlds, and they want to experience them. i remember this, this was a long time ago, playing mist, you know? thinking i don't want to win, i just want to hang out in this world for a while. and it's the same thing with all of these online gaming experiences and worlds and places you can go into. i think the idea